Monday, November 23

"The Five Greatest Warriors" - Matthew Reilly

"It Began With Six Stones
Jack West Jr and his loyal team are in desperate disarray: they've been separated, their mission is in tatters, and Jack was last seen plummeting down a fathomless abyss.
After surviving his deadly fall, Jack must now race against his many enemies to locate and set in place the remaining pieces of The Machine before the coming Armageddon.
As the world teeters on the brink of destruction, he will learn of the Five Warriors, the individuals who throughout history have been most intimately connected to his quest.
Scores will be settled, fathers will fight sons, brothers will battle brothers, and Jack and his friends will soon find out exactly what the end of the world looks like..."

I have to say, I was disappointed with this one. And I feel disappointed that I'm disappointed, since I was really looking forward to reading it, and I felt as though us readers were definitely owed something after the completely unfair cliffhanger ending of The Six Sacred Stones.

But unfortunately, to me this book felt like one long, drawn out, tired, well-used, and VERY predictable formula:
Team of Heroes must place pillars into vertexes to save world.
Team of Heroes are actively being pursued and trying to be stopped in this quest by Various Villains.
Team of Heroes encounter various challenges at each vertex. Team must fight Various Villains. Team must place pillar against all odds.
At some point, Member of Team is captured by Villain. Villain has some unspeakable fate for Member of Team. But never fear! Member of Team is rescued by other Team Heroes. Before the end of the story, the Villain responsible meets some ghastly end, either through the actions of one of the Heroes or just bad karma.
At one point in the story, Pivotal Character dies. Everyone is briefly sad. Lily sobs and cries. Then Team of Heroes grimly continue with Mission To Save The World.
At some point in the story, Key Fight To the Death occurs between two key characters. One dies. The other does not.
At one point in the story, Key Hero Jack West is seen meeting certain death. However he manages to escape this by an Implausible Reason and then Astonishes people by coming "Back From The Dead".
Throughout story, Astonishing Revelations about Historical Stuff and Places make everyone Gasp in Astonishment.
Climax of story involves Saving the World. World is saved. Villains are dead. Team of Heroes (minus a few) celebrate in peace and quiet in Remote Location.
Short Interview with Author at back of book.

OK. Now, formulas are fine, and every book / song / movie / creative work needs to start with some kind of base formula as its foundations. But the book (or whatever 'creative work') only becomes really good when this forumla is extrapolated, built upon, tweaked, changed, and ultimately crafted into something new and unique.

The Five Greatest Warriors, much like songs by Simple Plan, seemed to me to be just one long formula. I became a bit bored, despite all the perilous running around and actionable scenes. I didn't care for the characters and felt nothing when a key character died. This, to me, shows just how much Reilly's writing has changed since embarking on the Jack West Jr series. When characters died in Contest or any of the Shane Schofield series (especially Scarecrow!) or Temple, I felt sad (in some way) that they'd died. (No, I didn't burst into sobs and drench the pages of the books with my hot bitter salty tears. You know how it is when a good character dies.)

I also didn't really like the inclusion of Jesus as one of the major parts of the plot. (I don't feel as though I am giving any crucial spoilers away in saying this, since it's mentioned fairly early on in the book that Jesus Christ is one of the 'five warriors'.) I won't say anything else, and in fact the book doesn't make any great factual claims (it's allllll fiction, folks), but it just seems like a tacky grab for controversy on the author's part. "Ooh, look at me, I'm talking about the history of a major religious figure and making Implications! How controversial and risky of me! FREE SPEECH!"

In short, I really miss Reilly's earlier works and style. Bring back Schofield. Bring back aliens in the library. Just let Jack and his Team of Heroes feel all pleased with themselves for Saving the World and leave them to retire in peace in their Remote Location.

RATING: It was an OK way to spend two afternoons, but a lot of the reading felt curiously like a chore. Disappointing. 3 STARS